Tag Archives: Doc Holliday

The Difference Between Sitting on a Horse and Standing on a Rock

22 Feb

The arrival of the latest Cowboys and Indians magazine is always a highlight at our house. It is filled with all things Western – art, history, movies, fashion, decor. It is a must read for anyone who likes the stuff that can be found in the West.

With that in mind, I was surprised to find an article that bothered me. On top of that, it is dumb to let it bother me. After all, it is not about some controversial subject that leads to great debates. It is about the 50th anniversary of The Sons of Katie Elder, a movie starring John Wayne.

The entire thing started off bad with the first few sentences. It goes a follows:

“The first time we see John Wayne in The Sons of Katie Elder, the image is appropriately iconic. After his character, errant gunfighter John Elder, is frequently and sometimes fearfully discussed by blood relatives and mortal enemies for the first several minutes of the movie, he finally appears on horseback on a hilltop, silently gazing down at the graveside gathering for his recently departed, dearly beloved mother.”

What was bad about that? This is my favorite scene from the entire movie, and John Wayne is not sitting on a horse. He is standing on a rock.Katie Elder

Bottom line, if you are charged with writing an article about a movie, then you should watch the movie. Heck, this is one of the first scenes. How can Joe Leydon, the writer, get that wrong?

Anyway, those first sentences got the article on the wrong track, but there is another problem. This movie is not good enough to deserve a 50th anniversary commemoration. It is written with the theme that this was John Wayne’s first movie after surgery to remove cancerous tumors. That is a noble subject and deserves to be written. However, a better article would be about his fight through the years and not focused on this film.

I am a huge fan of John Wayne and will read anything about him. I also understand that other people will do the same. That is why this magazine and others like it do all that can to put him in their pages. I just think that something better could have been written.

What is my problem with The Sons of Katie Elder? The entire thing is filled with bad casting. The age difference between John Wayne and Michael Anderson, Jr. makes the entire thing unbelievable. In fact, one was 36 years older than the other.Katie Sons

I guess that is possible, but Katie Elder must have been one heck of a woman.

Oh yeah, there is one other problem. Who decided to use the name Katie Elder? In the movie, she is described by everyone as the best woman who ever lived. They do not even have the words to describe her goodness. With that in mind, they should have come up with a better name because the real Kate Elder was not filled with goodness.

Big Nose Kate was a prostitute who hung around Doc Holliday. I will not go into the sordid details of her life, but I think about her whenever I watch this movie. Did she turn her life around and move to Clearwater, Texas? Was she such a good person in an attempt to make up for her past? I cannot separate the fictional Katie Elder from the real Kate Elder.

I write all of that to write this. If you are going to write an article about John Wayne then write about John Wayne. If you are going to write about John Wayne’s fight with cancer then write about John Wayne’s fight with cancer. However, if you are going to commemorate one of John Wayne’s movies, then make it one of the good ones.

On top of that, watch the movie first so you can describe the scenes accurately.

 

 

From Sports Illustrated to The Old Farmer’s Almanac

24 Dec

This is another one of those nights when I don’t have anything to write about. I thought about an expose on Duck Dynasty and the dangers of turning a real person into a television character, but I have heard enough about that topic. All I know is that I don’t agree with the opinions of most of the people around me.

Last night, my mind was running crazy with ideas to blog about. There was this movie character that I was going to compare to a person in my town. Then, I remembered how many people in my town read the blog. I also thought about writing about our dinner at a local establishment. In fact, that could be a future one.

Heck, I even thought about listing a bunch of stuff that I like. One day, I was driving down the road when I came upon a bridge. Out of the blue, I said, “I like bridges.” The lady who was with me said that I sounded like Forrest Gump. It’s true. I like bridges. That’s just the way it is.

As I sat down at the computer, I considered writing about the emails that we get from students when the semester is over, but I have already written about that. It’s usually over by down, but I am still getting emails about grades on Christmas Eve.

Of course, I could write about my current treadmill book. It is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. No Country for Old Men and The Road have already been scratched off my McCarthy list. They were both made into great movies, and I think this one would make a great movie, too. It would be one of the bloodiest and most realistic Westerns ever made. I am proud to say that McCarthy is a Tennessee guy.

Those are all things that could be written about, but I’m not going to do any of those. Instead, I am going to list some of the things that are on my desk.

There is the latest copy of Sports Illustrated.Sports Illustrated

Next to it is a box of dry erase markers.

A gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond is underneath there somewhere.

My grade book is out for those emails that I have been getting.

There is even a couple of VHS tapes.

There is a tape measure sitting on top of a book called John Henry: The Doc Holliday Story. It was written by Ben Traywick, native of Watertown, Tennessee and official historian of Tombstone, Arizona.

Sunglasses and a stapler are butted up against each other.

Beside them are a couple of lottery tickets that didn’t pay off.

My trusty iPhone is next to my trusty calculator. I know. The phone has a calculator, too. I don’t care because I like the old-fashioned kind.

There is a stack of bills and a newspaper clipping from the Civil War.

A little further away sits the 2014 issue of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.Almanac

If you want to get smarter, then you need to pick up a copy. It’s full of all kinds of great information. For example, November 25, my birthday, is one of the best days to set posts or pour concrete.

That’s the stuff that’s on my desk, and that’s also the reason my wife keeps telling me that I need to clean it.

Picture This – The OK Corral

15 Nov

Arizona 2013 008

A few weeks ago, Necole and I spent some time in Arizona, and that provided us with the opportunity to travel to Tombstone. I had been there several times, but this was Necole’s first trip. It was about time that she experience “The Town Too Tough To Die.”

Like everyone else, we had to take a look at the OK Corral. To do that, we had to make our way through a souvenir shop that sold everything with OK Corral written on it. That wasn’t surprising. The fact that there was a movie about the history of Tombstone in the next room was also not surprising. However, discovery that Vincent Price was the narrator of the movie caught me off guard. Of all people chosen to narrate a movie about a western town, Vincent Price would not have been my first choice.

Anyway, we paid our money and walk out the back door to the OK Corral. There was some blacksmith stuff going on, and there was a carriage for a photo opportunity. However, there wasn’t anything about the gunfight that made the OK Corral and Tombstone famous. There have been movies about the Gunfight at the Ok Corral. There have been books written about the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Unfortunately, the gunfight did not take place in the OK Corral. It took place in a vacant lot around back.

It seems that the Gunfight at the OK Corral sounds more interesting that the Gunfight at the Vacant Lot.

We followed the path of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the gang and found ourselves staring at Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the gang. As you can see from the above image, they looked very realistic. I thought Disney World was the only place with animatronic figures. In fact, Tombstone has them, too.

Necole noticed that their boots had curled up from long exposure to the elements. She also noticed that they were standing close together. That’s because the combatants we standing close together. At least, that’s what Wyatt Earp said. The problem is that a lot of things Wyatt Earp said have turned out to not be true.

As we stood pondering these thoughts, a booming voice came over the loud-speaker, and the figures began to move. The Gunfight at the OK Corral was happening all over again. It was not very action packed, but the most disappointing aspect was that the booming voice did not belong to Vincent Price.

Walking in the Footsteps of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Some Biosphereans

15 Oct

Necole and I just returned from Tucson, Arizona and the conference of the Western History Association. The conference was informative and will be covered in the next post. This post is about the touristy things that we did while there. Obviously, there are lots of places to see, but our time was limited. Necole had never spent much time in that part of the country, and I wanted to make sure she saw some good stuff. With that in mind, I picked one place that neither one of us had ever seen and another place that I have visited several times. In fact, it’s one of my favorites.

North of Tucson sits a giant scientific experiment called Biosphere 2, which was recently named one of the 50 Wonders of the World. In the 1980s, it was built by a private firm for $150 million as a way to study the environment in a controlled setting. For two years, eight Biosphereans were sealed in the facility to live and study their surroundings. After our tour, I am still not sure what they were trying to accomplish, but they came out alive. More people probably remember Pauly Shore wrecking the place in Bio-Dome than they do the actual experiment.

I have always wanted to see Biosphere 2 and thought it would be something good for us to both see for the first time. We had to walk through a little village that is supposed to be the model for a perfect community. I have no idea why people keep trying to create one of these. People aren’t perfect, and, therefore, communities will never be perfect.

Then, we saw it.Arizona 2013 001

Before we went in, I was afraid that we might run into a Sandman. The crystal in my palm has already turned black, and there was no way I was going to Carousel. My options started to run through my mind. I could look for Farrah Fawcett at the plastic surgeon, or I could run. It turns out that I didn’t have anything to worry about. Instead of a Sandman, we found a tour guide.

He took us through a building with miniaturized versions of different environments. There was a rainforest. There was an ocean. There was a swamp. There was a desert.Arizona 2013 004

After touring the upper world of Biosphere 2, we went into the underworld and saw the guts of the place. Then, we sat the dining table in the living quarters of the Biosphereans. It was a nice place, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

It was at some point toward the end of the tour when a German tourist asked about the power source for the structure. The tour guide said that it ran on 2% solar power. Necole said what I was thinking. How can an experiment design to study the environment run on 2% solar power? Shouldn’t they be more environmentally friendly than that? As Necole said, it made the entire thing seem hokey.

The next day, I took Necole to one of my favorite places, Tombstone, Arizona. Known for the Gunfight at the OK Corral, this town has been immortalized in movies, books and television. It’s a good thing because without a gunfight that lasted a few seconds “The Town Too Tough To Die” would be dead. The old mining camp lives off tourist who want to walk in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. I won’t destroy anyone’s opinion of those guys in this post. Instead, I may do it in the next one.

My parents took me to Tombstone when I was a kid, and I have been back several times since. I wanted Necole to see one of the places that made me want to study and teach the history of the West. To do that, we needed to step into the streets of a famous mining camp.Arizona 2013 007

Our first stop, like everyone else, was at the site of the gunfight. Of course, you have to go through a souvenir shop before they will let you in the corral. In truth, that’s not where the gunfight took place. We walked through the corral to a backlot where the action took place. Now, there are cheap animatronic figures representing the combatants. As the narrator describes the fight, they move. However, they don’t fall down when they are shot.Arizona 2013 008

After watching the fake gunfight, which I had explained to Necole before the narrator ever began, we walked down the street. Necole wanted to stop in a jewelry store, and it turned out to be a good thing. That was the place where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday stopped to buy cigars before going toward the corral. Movies make it look like they walked a long way. It was just a block away.

Then, it was on to the highlight of any visit to Tombstone, a meeting with Ben Traywick. We entered his bookstore to find him behind his desk. I introduced myself and introduced him to Necole. Mr. Traywick is the Tombstone historian. He also happens to be from Watertown, a little town in our county where my dad grew up. For the next hour, he told us how he got to Tombstone; talked about the actors who have visited him; talked about people back home; and showed all of the books he had written. I bought too many of them. Mr. Traywick is an interesting person who has lived an interesting life. I wish more people knew to stop in and see him.

We went further down the street to the Birdcage Theater, perhaps the most famous saloon in the West. It served as a theater, a gambling hall, a bar and a brothel. In fact, prostitutes plied their trade in the theater boxes that overlooked the main floor. The boxes looked like birdcages.Arizona 2013 009

If you see anything weird in this picture let me know. The Birdcage is supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the country.

After the Birdcage, we did like Doc and Wyatt and went to a bar for a drink. I was tempted to order a shot of redeye. Instead, I got a Jack and Coke.

Listeria – Gunslingers Edition

12 Nov

The folks at Wild West Magazine put out a special edition called 10 Greatest Gunfighters, and, as a historian of the American West, I had to pick the thing up. It lists the famous gunmen and includes a biography of each one. I didn’t read them in great detail because I already know the stories and the articles seemed to rehash the same old mixture of myth and reality.

Because it is difficult to separate myth from reality, I will not recount the lives of these men here. Instead, here is the list of who they consider to be the ten greatest gunslingers with a few facts about them included. I hope that you will use this as a base to explore the depth of their lives.

Wild Bill Hickok

Real Name: James Butler Hickok

Birth: May 27, 1837 in Homer, Illinois

Death: August 2, 1876 Deadwood, Dakota Territory

Death Fact: Hickok was shot while playing poker and, according to legend, was holding Ace’s and 8’s. Those cards are now known as Dead Man’s Hand.

Bat Masterson

Real Name: William Barclay Masterson

Birth: November 26, 1853 in Henryville, Canada East

Death: October 25, 1921 in New York City

Death Fact: Masterson became a sports writer and died after writing a column.

Billy the Kid

Real Name: William Henry McCarty, Jr.

Birth: Unknown – many believe he was born in New York City in 1859.

Death: July 14, 1881 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico

Death Fact: The Kid was shot by Pat Garrett, sheriff of Lincoln County, but many people believe that it really didn’t happen.

Johnny Ringo

Real Name: John Peters Ringo

Birth: May 3, 1850 in Greensfork, Indiana

Death: July 14, 1882 in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona

Death Fact: Ringo was found under a tree with a bullet hole in his temple.

Bill Longley

Real Name: William Preston Longley

Birth: October 6, 1851 in Mill Creek, Texas

Death: October 11, 1878 in Giddings, Texas

Death Facts: Longley claimed to have killed 32 people and was executed by hanging.

Jesse James

Real Name: Jesse Woodson James

Birth: September 5, 1847 in Clay County, Missouri

Death: April 3, 1882 in Saint Joseph, Missouri

Death Fact: James was shot by Bob Ford while dusting a picture hanging on the wall.

Pat Garrett

Real Name: Patrick Floyd Garrett

Birth: June 5, 1850 in Cusseta, Alabama

Death: February 29, 1908 near Las Cruces, New Mexico

Death Fact: Garrett was killed over an argument about goats.

Clay Allison

Real Name: Robert Clay Allison

Birth: September 2, 1840 in Clifton, Tennessee

Death: July 3, 1887 on his ranch near Pecos, Texas

Death Fact: Allison fell off a wagon and suffered a broken neck when a wheel rolled over him.

Doc Holliday

Real Name: John Henry Holliday

Birth: August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia

Death: November 8, 1887 in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Death Facts: Holliday died of tuberculosis at the Hotel Glenwood.

Kid Curry

Real Name: Harvey Alexander Logan

Birth: 1867 in Richland Township, Iowa

Death: June 1904 near Parachute, Colorado

Death Fact: Logan shot himself rather than being captured by a posse.